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Research Unit on the Philosophy of Biomedicine, Health Professions, and Public Health Sciences


This unit studies the central questions in theory of science, ethics, and politics that arise in connection with medicine, health, and health practice. The research bears on, among others, the articulation of the concepts of disease and  the development of diagnostics, the requirement of an evidence-based medical and clinical practice (including the relation between qualitative and quantitative evidence), the altered understanding of the human body in light of biotechnological and neuroscientific development, ethical questions in relation to health promotion, health enhancement, our understanding of autonomy and justice in light of altered relations among health professionals, patients, and the state.

The unit strengthens a national and international research collaboration developed during the past 40 years, including an extensive collaboration with what is now the Faculty of Health at Aarhus University. In collaboration with the Center for Humanistic Health Research, the unit provides the research basis for teaching in philosophy and theory of science in connection with a number of programmes at the Faculty of Health. Finally, the unit pursues an extensive research collaboration, both nationally and internationally, with a number of health institutions and research centers.

Events Fall 2020

8. september, kl. 16:00 - 17:00

Elizabeth Barnes, Professor of Philosophy, University of Virginia

”Wellbeing and the Value of Health”

30. september kl. 15:00 - 16:00 

Manuela Fernández Pinto. Associate Professor of Philosophy, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá

Pragmatic progress and the improvement of medical knowledge for global health

The aim of the paper is to offer a philosophical analysis of the crisis in medical knowledge in terms of the pragmatic progress needed for pharmaceutical research to solve pressing epistemic and social health problems. First, I show that the drug market has led to a significant epistemic gap between the knowledge needed to address social health issues and the knowledge produced. Second, I use the notion of pragmatic progress to suggest a new reading of the crisis, which emphasizes the problems that clinical research is set to solve. Then I present two alternative ways to restructure medical research to fulfill this aim through real-world examples. Finally, I address a possible objection.

6. oktober, kl. 16:00 - 17:00

Jonathan Fuller, Assistant Professor, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh  

Epidemics from the population perspective 

Epidemics consist in individuals spreading infection to others. Yet from the population perspective, they also have population characteristics that are important in modeling, explaining and intervening in epidemics. I analyze epidemiology’s contemporary population perspective through the example of epidemics, focusing on two foundational principles attributed to the epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose (1985, 1992): a distinction between the causes of cases and the causes of incidence, and between ‘high-risk’ and ‘population’ strategies of prevention. Both principles require revision or clarification to capture the sense in which they describe distinct perspectives on the same phenomenon (such as an epidemic), rather than distinct causes and interventions. 

The talks are all virtual; if interested send a mail to Anke Büter (abueter@cas.au.dk), for the Zoom link.


The following members of the programme participate regularly to the activities organized by the unit. Most activities are open to those interested. Please, contact the unit coordinator for further information.

Unit Coordinator